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Accoustic Guitars - Observations and questions

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rparker
(@rparker)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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Dont know if this has been mentioned, but I believe you replaced the saddle backwards. It is a compensated saddle and the thicker end should be toward the low E string.

That's how it is. Thanks, though! :)

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


   
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Nils
 Nils
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Sounds like you got some really good advice and in some case confirmation of what you were doing so there is not much I can add.

I did however, go from 12's to 11's on my Taylor 310 and loved the change. On the plus end it is much softer to fret which was important to me since I switch between acoustic and electric often and I like the feel to be about the same. If there was a negative the volume dropped a little but still had a sweat sound.

The best advice I can give is use the info on my site to measure and record everything before you change the strings. When you adjust for the new strings write down the amount of each adjustment. You then have something to go back to if you don't like the string change.

Even though I have complete faith in the information on my site I still take guitars in for "professional" setups when they are new just to get the best base line for the guitar. I then use my limited knowledge to keep it that way.

Good luck and enjoy.

Nils' Page - Guitar Information and other Stuff
DMusic Samples


   
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rparker
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Well, hi there Nils. Glad to hear from you. My Taylor, Epi LP Custom and Harley riding brother from the north. :)

I cannot tell you how much your setup page has taught and helped me over the past few years. All of my guitars play well because I started doing more and more techniques from your information and instructions. I think my only real bear right now is the ever changing SG neck tension. I suspect that's par for the course with those thin and flexible necks. I do that guitar every season change and it takes days. Small adjustment....let set a day, play, measure, adjust, let set, play, etc. Thanks again for that valuable resource.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


   
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Cat
 Cat
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#1: My first questions is this. Has any of you ever went from 12's to 11's on an accoustic. If so, what did you notice about the playability, tone, etc. Vibration too. Like the kind when you don't fret the string in the perfect spot.

I know that accoustic guitars do not have the action that Electric guitars have.

Parker, Parker, Parker...here I am all jet-type lagged and you're still chasin' after strings!

I use two acoustics. Both strung with .09's. One's an absurdly over-priced Martin D35 Johnny Cash Rosewood (1974) with a catalogue price for new at $5599...so I can't imagine what a pristine one is worth 35 years later. The other's an Epiphone of some sort. Maybe $400 with the case. The Martin sounds GREAT but certainly is lacking in action. However, the Epiphone (mid 70's, too) outplays 90% of the electrics out there. Crappy, tinny tone but bonza action...so PLEASE don't say "I know that accoustic guitars do not have the action that Electric guitars have"!!!!!!!!!!

Again: "Hey! You aren't 'posed tuh put dem kinda strings on dat!"

Sez hoo? :lol:

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


   
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AKFlyingV
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You use acoustics with .09s? I didn't even know that was possible. Are they acoustic strings or do you just string them with electric strings?

Hope you get over that jet lag!


   
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Cat
 Cat
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You use acoustics with .09s? I didn't even know that was possible. Are they acoustic strings or do you just string them with electric strings? Hope you get over that jet lag!

By "acoustic strings" I take it you don't mean gut strings like on a Flemenco? Yep...tried that one, too...but the neck nearly busted off as I hit the strings way too hard!

Long, long ago (living under a parachute far, far away) I needed a guitar that was easy to play. No electricity or whatnot. And I never really wanted an acoustic...too "folksy" for me being a rocker, I guess. So I hunted up that cheap Epiphone...put Ernie Balls on it...and, there ya go! Very tinny sound...low volume...BUT...lo and behold...I wrote a few radically different tunes (for me, anyway).

What was missing was the richness of tone that electrics don't have. A while later I coughed up the Big Bucks for a Martin. Nope...great tone (for sure) but nowhere's near the Epiphone for action.

Hey, AK...I gotta ask: WHY do you have the preconceived notion that something's precluded from you as far as guitars go???

Actually...now here's a good topic for the OPINIONS section of GN: "How weird is weird?"

(Hendrix picked strings with his teeth, for example...) I'm 100% POSITIVE that there ain't anyone out there that takes the time to teach a Newbie that one!!! :lol:

It's all technique...as special and as unique as you are, matey!

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


   
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rparker
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I'm still trying to wrap my head around 9's on an accoustic. Heck, with what I'm on, I'm still trying to remember what I had for lunch. :roll:

So, are you saying the tone on the epi accoustic you had was tinny due to the strings or the guitar itself. Either way, do you remember the tone before and afterwards? Just curious. Actually, the same question for the Martin. I'm sure it didn't come with 9's on it.

I'm a little step kind of person. Unskilled people with time to kill can afford to do that. I probably will reverse my previous notion of sticking with 12's and try the 11's as so many have pointed out and suggested. I will probably buy a pack of 10's while I'm there. I really think that my guitar right now is probably set up well for 11's. I didn't sand down my saddle anymore just so I could try some without major adjustments being needed.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


   
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Cat
 Cat
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I'm still trying to wrap my head around 9's on an accoustic.

Nah! Yer all cool, matey. Actually, it's been GREAT to watch your journey...

Your conversation shows a downsizing of string guages to where you're trying .10's at the moment. I first held a guitar in 1962. It's 2009 now. Sooner or later you'll try anything from "cool decals" to thin strings. Nowadays I'm old enough to play in my underwear and get away with it. :oops:

That Epiphone sounds poorly due to being freakin' cheap, Parker. No specially match-grained panels made with exotic woods. I tried maybe 50 of them from store to store in NY Boston, LA...heaps of places...like, for a year. Like how our wives buy shoes, Parker. ONE was a factory mistake...it was THAT good. I use light strings on it. Crap response from the strings unless you change them every session...and crap tone thanks to being the El Cheapo model. Okay...lemme look into this soundhole: FT 145. Geez, after all these years I REALLY looked in there...no serial number that I can see.

There's a sort of "toolbox" you end up with as far as guitars you use often. I'll get my kid to photograph what I mean...so I'll post that in a day or two.

Ibanez 'Artist EQ' (c.1978) with two special pickups I've added to the standard...with 8's

Fender Jaguar (c.1965)...replaced pickups with Hummer and a Gretch Country Gentleman...and another special pickup...with 9's.

Gibson FB-12 (1967)...matched .10 set with thin D/A/E high strings.

Martin D-35 (1974 Rosewood Johnny Cash)

...and the Epiphone FT 145.

So...as for "Observations and Questions"...how'z zat? :lol:

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


   
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Nick Torres
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IMNSHO The epi sounds tinny due to the strings being so thin they don't drive the top/soundboard. That isn't even my opinion, google it. The overriding consensus is if your acoustic sounds tinny/dead/quiet/awful move up a string gauge. I've got an old epi and it doesn't sound thin or tinny. It would if I put ultra light strings on it. Now your epi still may sound like crap with thicker strings, but it won't sound tinny.

On the other hand, it's cheap to try really thin strings. If you decide to experiment, please report back your findings.

If your action is high with med lights, go and get it set up. I've got acoustics with med-light strings that have super low action. Hell I've got a 12 string that's probably got better action than most electrics. String gauge should not impact action all that much.


   
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rparker
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Nick,

That's what I had always heard, hence the major apprehension of reducing string guage. After sleeping on it, I'm gonna get a pack of 11's for sure. Still might try a pack of 10's sometime just to goof around, but what little capacity I have for focusing will be done so towards 11s.

I saw and remember well the picture of your Breedlove in another thread a bit ago. Those strings looked like they were dead on perfect. Is that how it came, did you make adjustments yourself, or get a set-up done?

My measurements on the previous page (from after sanding the saddle down, adjusting truss rod) show that I'm pretty close according the the specs, but still a touch high. ...... .006 for the nut height measurement and almost 7/64th for the string height measurement. Just a touch high per specs, .... My measurements for the truss rod are very much at the thin end.

Your suggestion, again, is to bring it to a pro for a set-up. I totally respect your opinions. Me not doing so right now is not "me not listening to you", but rather, I would like to try some things myself before doing so mostly to learn. I've got time to kill and some major patience capabilities when summoned. I've done really good things with my electrics. I'd like to be able to do some things on my accoustic as well. I'm willing to sacrifice a saddle as they are not too expensive. ($11 for the tusq that's on it, probably more for a bone...never looked)

The nut is a different story. It's a little high per specs (.006) and I don't think I'm that brave yet to remove myself. I'm sure there are proper tools for the job and I do not have them. I've heard of people filing the grooves themselves. I would not attempt to do until owning the proper set of files and doing some research.

Which does bring me to one other thought that I will measure. Theoretically, the 11's will sit further into the grooves on a nut than 12's. I think I'll measure just to see how much it did. I'm sure it's very much individual nut/guitar/groove specific. In fact, I'll do before and after measurements all the way around and post. Those numbers will be somewhat contestable as I am thinking of being cute and trying a set of Martins on my Taylor. :)

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


   
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Nick Torres
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no, no, no, sorry... I didn't think you weren't listening, sorry if I implied it.

If you can set it up and get it there, I'd go for it. If it still isn't to your liking, once you've done all you can, when you have the time take it in.

Check the nut height. That may be increasing your action.

Get yourself a plastic and a tusq saddle from mail order and experiment with the plastic one, sanding that puppy down. Use the current saddle as a template for the new one and go from there. Check out Frank Ford's page too.

It can be done.


   
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Cat
 Cat
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Hiya, Parker & Gidday, Nick!

Yep, Nick...yer spot on about that Epi sound quality (or lack, thereof). Most often...if I ever DO use it at work...I plug the mic that's in it (somewhere) into the board. Basically...this is the thing that I sit on the verandah with...or take to the beach...that sort of thing.

For me...playability trumps sound...especially as I battle osteo and RSS/tendonitis, & hearing loss & even hair loss!! :?

My point is that "sooner or later" a guitarist will try pretty much anything...not all of 'em too bright of an idea!!!

And...yeah...the string gauge leaves insufficient mass to drive the soundboard...but "tinny"...I should have clarified "as compared to the Martin". Actually, that particular guitar is currently at a GOOD luthier getting new frets (lower) and the nut/bridge altered (actually, replaced with interchangeable ones cut deeper and sized for the new set) for .09's. My fingers are crossed as to how it turns out.

My professional life basically revolves around how the guitars I use sound after a completed recording. Great pro software certainly DOES give you some wriggle room as far as volume and tone...

My playing style ain't folksy by any means...so it kind of evolved that this rocker sets his guitars up this way...

Hope I make sense!!!

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


   
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rparker
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I got me a pack of 11s and a pack of 10's for the acoustic, and a pack of 8's to try out for an electric yet to be determined. Curiosity kills the cat. No, not you Cat. :oops: Probably change the Accoustic strings in the next day or two.
Check the nut height. That may be increasing your action.

Yeah, that's the measurement that most bothers me. It's a touch high. The measurement I get is .006 using the Nils method. Well, in between .005 and .006.
For me...playability trumps sound...especially as I battle osteo and RSS/tendonitis, & hearing loss & even hair loss!!

Yeah man, you gotta do what you gotta do. Beats the heck out of not playing, eh?

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


   
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Cat
 Cat
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Yeah man, you gotta do what you gotta do. Beats the heck out of not playing, eh?

Actually...this should read: Beats the heck out of not recouping your 401-K, eh? :(

I've made up for the loss in the lighter srtring mass by using a brass nut. Mind you, it takes a really skilled luthier to do this since all's you want to do is "swap" parts...which leaves you the option of getting it back to it's factory spec. Like the Martin...with re-grooved nut and bridge. Even the frets can be put back to factory specs.

All in all...I keep a few guitars set up differently. What I like to play and what I have to play are two different things.

Cat

"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"


   
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rparker
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Hi folks, just an update. I put the 11's on there as advertised. I did get increased playability. Ken was talking about scale length earlier and I got thinking, I play probably 80% of my time on short scale guitars while this one is a 25.5. Adds something to the equation.

Anyhow, I made before and after recordings. A brief chord progressions, followed by a slower strums and then a couple basic arpeggios. I got out of tune by the end of the 11's, but you can get the idea. I'm too close to the project to be objective. What do you guys notice, if anything, about the tonal differnces?

12's http://soundclick.com/share?songid=7451596
11's http://soundclick.com/share?songid=7451603

And as far as string height, we're still a tad high on the low E. Same measurement really, as you guys predicted.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


   
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